DEA extends telehealth prescription exemptions as public health emergency ends

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced a set of waivers to make it easier for healthcare providers to prescribe controlled substances through medical consultations. telehealth. The amendments exempted providers from key provisions of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, designed to prevent providers from writing prescriptions without careful patient screening. These exceptions were set when the government’s official public health emergency ended on May 11.

But just before that deadline, the DEA announced a temporary extension of pandemic waivers. The agency said it would allow current exceptions to the Ryan Haight Act to continue for another six months, until November 11. The agency also announced an additional one-year grace period for cases where a provider-patient relationship is initiated before November. 11 deadline. This means that patients who receive prescriptions for controlled substances based on telemedicine visits can continue to receive those prescriptions without an in-person visit to their prescriber until November 11, 2024, provided the provider-patient relationship begins before the 11th of November.

One reason for the delay is the massive amount of public comment on the topic. The DEA said it received 38,369 public comments on its proposed rules. The agency said it needed time to “examine” those submissions.

Kyle Zelby, executive director of ATA Action, the lobbying arm of the American Telemedicine Association.

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) welcomed the extension, calling it a “respite” for telehealth and an opportunity for the agency to reconsider the proposed permanent rules, which the association said would be too restrictive.

“We hope that during this extended period, the DEA will revise the proposed rules to remove unnecessarily restrictive barriers to fair and appropriate clinical care, such as requiring in-person visits,” said Kyle Zebley, executive director of the lobbying arm of the ATA. , ATA action.

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